- Army has been deployed across Pakistan to help civil admin fight COVID-19
- Cities are under complete lockdowns save essential services and movement
- Sindh politician Saeed Ghani also tested positive and is under self-quarantine
- So far, the virus has affected 959 and killed 7 in Pakistan
- Public is advised to remain indoors and show responsibility in this time of crisis
The armed forces were called in by the government on Monday to help curb the spread of coronavirus that has infected over 870 people and claimed 6 lives in Pakistan so far. Director-General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar in his press briefing on Monday reiterated the army’s commitment to helping the nation fight the pandemic.
“It’s time to make tough decisions on individual, family, community, and society levels,” he said. Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar also highlighted the importance of social distancing saying, “All borders have already been closed as a precautionary measure, but the real border is between man and coronavirus that we need to control.”
Hours after PM Imran Khan ruled out a national lockdown in his speech on Sunday, Sindh announced a complete 15-day lockdown across the province limiting movement to need-basis only. Following Sindh, Punjab also announced a two-week lockdown calling it ‘partial shutdown’ despite the restrictions being similar to those imposed in Sindh. Azad Jammu & Kashmir also followed suit announcing a three-week lockdown. KP had announced a 3-day partial shutdown days earlier.
On Monday, Sindh Minister for Education, Labour and Human Resources Saeed Ghani announced in a video message that he had tested positive for coronavirus and was under self-isolation in spite of being completely asymptomatic. He requested citizens to stay at home and practice social distancing, and said that the purpose of the video was to alert those who may have come into contact with him over the past weeks.
In another development, Islamabad’s union council of Kot Hathial was quarantined by the capital administration after six members of the Tableeghi Jamaat residing in the area tested positive for COVID-19. On Sunday, two mosques in the area where ijtemas had taken place were also closed and disinfected after a member of the Jamaat, a Kyrgyz, tested positive for the virus.
Here are the latest updates.
Partial Lockdown Announced in Islamabad
The capital administration has announced a partial lockdown in Islamabad.
During the lockdown:
- All shopping malls, restaurants, and markets will remain closed
- All public transport will be suspended
- All gatherings will be suspended
- Private offices will also remain shut
- Public offices will operate between 10am to 4pm
- OPDs in all hospitals will be suspended
- Metro bus will operate between 8:30am to 10.00am and 3:00pm to 5:30pm
3 More COVID-19 Cases Emerge in Sindh
With three new COVID-19 positives, Sindh’s coronavirus tally has reached 410.
It takes the national tally to 959.
Sindh Reports 10 More Recoveries
Sindh govt. spokesperson Murtaza Wahab has informed that another 10 coronavirus patients have recovered in the province.
The total number of people recovered from the disease in Pakistan now stands at 14.
— SenatorMurtaza Wahab (@murtazawahab1) March 24, 2020
Govt. Announces Rs. 1.2 Trillion Covid-19 Package
The government of Pakistan has announced Rs. 1,200 billion Economic Relief and Stimulus Package which seeks to provide relief to vulnerable people, SMEs and industry and supports the poor.
Addressing a press conference, Prime Minister Imran Khan alongside his senior ministers and advisors said that the coronavirus pandemic is not the real danger, rather the decisions that people took fearing the COVID-19 threat.
Read the full story here.
Saudi Arabia Records First Coronavirus Death
First coronavirus death has been reported in Saudi Arabia.
according to the Saudi Health Ministry, the deceased was an Afghan expat.
— SPAENG (@Spa_Eng) March 24, 2020
Sindh Tightens Lockdown
Sindh has announced that an ‘effective lockdown’ will go into effect in the province from 8pm to 8am with all shops and grocery stores to remain shut.
Medical stores, however, will be exempted from this new directive.
Modi Announces India Lockdown
India has joined the ranks of Britain and other countries clamping down to hold back the virus.
A US-based expert Ramanan Laxminarayan had previously projected that six in 10 of the Indian population or 800 million people could get the Covid-19 illness.
— Hindustan Times (@htTweets) March 24, 2020
US the New Global COVID-19 Epicenter?
WHO says that the US ‘does have the potential’ to become the new coronavirus epicenter.
The country is seeing a large acceleration in cases. Over the previous 24 hours, 85 percent of new cases were in Europe and the United States, and of those, 40 percent were in the United States.
As of Monday, the virus had infected more than 42,000 people there, killing at least 559.
U.S. could become next coronavirus epicenter, WHO says https://t.co/oSuuiEepBs
— Reuters China (@ReutersChina) March 24, 2020
640 Pilgrims to be Sent Home from Sukkur
After testing negative for coronavirus, 640 pilgrims who were being quarantined in Sukkur will be sent to their homes.
Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah announced the decision saying the returning people have been directed to stay inside their homes for a few days.
Coronavirus Cases More Than Double in KP with 40 New Positives
KP has reported 40 new coronavirus cases which takes the provincial tally to 78.
As many as 37 of the new cases were reported in zaireen.
40 new cases have been confirmed in KP, more than doubling our tally to 78. Please note that 37 of these cases came from Zaireen who were recently received. 3 new cases emerged from the province keeping in line with the general trend of the province. #KPFightsCorona pic.twitter.com/lRs0nyDV99
— Health Department KP (@HealthKPGovt) March 24, 2020
CM Shah Urges People to Contact Helpline if Symptoms Appear
CM Sindh Murad Ali Shah has urged people to contact designated COVID-19 helpline numbers if they experience any of the virus’s typical symptoms.
These numbers include:
- 0316-0111712 (for WhatsApp messages)
PM Imran Khan Briefs Media, Announces Relief Package
PM Imran Khan, in a media briefing, announced a comprehensive economic package to protect the people, industry and the country’s economy from the negative impact of coronavirus. Below are some of the announcements:
- Prices of all POL products have been cut by Rs15
- Rs100 billion package announced for SMEs and agri sector
- Rs200 billion relief package announced for poor
- Additional Rs50 billion earmarked for Utility Stores
- Rs25 billion earmarked for NDMA
- Concessions and tax refunds for exporters and businessmen
- Special package to be announced for construction industry in a few days
Read the full story here.
Petrol Prices in Pakistan Cut by Rs15
PM Imran Khan in his press briefing has announced a 15-rupee cut in all POL products.
Sindh Reports 13 New Coronavirus Cases
Sindh has reported 13 new COVID-19 cases taking the provincial total to 407.
8 of the new cases were detected in Karachi while the remaining 5 were found in pilgrims who returned from Iran to Sukkur.
READ: Coronavirus – Is Pakistan the Next Italy?
Pakistan’s abysmal and inadequate healthcare system is no secret. Especially, remote and rural areas with their lack of hospitals, doctors, medical kits and facilities.
Unlike Italy, which ranks no.2 in the world for its healthcare, we have neither the technology, nor the human labor to battle out the increasing number of cases we’re currently seeing.
How, then, are we going to tackle the crisis?
Read the full story here.
PM Imran Khan to Make Big Announcement Soon: Zafar Mirza
SAPM on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza has said that PM Imran Khan will address the nation again soon in which he is expected to make some big announcement.
First Coronavirus Death Reported in Punjab
Punjab has reported its first coronavirus death, taking the national toll to 7 so far.
The deceased – a 57-year-old patient from Sheikhupura – was under treatment at Mayo Hospital and had no travel history.
By Far the Worst Virus I Have Ever Endured: Olympic Swimming Champion
Olympic swimming champion Cameron van der Burgh said he has been battling the coronavirus for the last two weeks.
“By far the worst virus I have ever endured despite being a healthy individual with strong lungs,” van der Burgh said.
The 31-year-old South African swimmer won gold in the 100-meter breaststroke at the 2012 London Olympics and silver in Rio four years later. He retired in 2018.
16 New Cases Appear In Punjab
Punjab’s coronavirus tally has reached 265 with the addition of 16 new confirmed cases. Below is a breakdown of the cases reported in Punjab so far:
- Zaireen: 176
- Lahore: 59
- Multan: 2
- Rawalpindi: 2
- Gujrat: 12
- Jhelum: 3
- Gujranwala: 7
- Faisalabad: 1
- Mandi Bahauddin: 1
- Rahim Yar Khan: 1
- Sargodha: 1
GB Reports 2 Coronavirus Recoveries
Gilgit Baltistan’s focal person for coronavirus Dr. Shah Zaman has announced the recovery of 2 COVID-19 patients.
Both patients were under treatment at an Islamabad hospital where they were kept in isolation.
Pakistani Pilots Donate 3-Day Salary to Coronavirus Fund
Pakistan Airline Pilots’ Association (Palpa) has announced that each pilot will donate three days’ salary to the COVID-19 fund created by the government.
9 New Cases Reported in GB
GB’s tally has climbed to 80 after 9 new coronavirus cases emerge in the region.
This takes Pakistan’s national tally to 887.
The COVID-19 Pandemic Is Accelerating: WHO
The World Health Organization has warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating and the world needs a ‘football game strategy to attack the virus’.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a virtual news briefing to journalists said, “It took 67 days from the beginning of the outbreak in China in late December for the virus to infect the first 100,000 people worldwide. In comparison, it took 11 days for the second 100,000 cases and just four days for the third 100,000 cases.”
To win, he said, we need to attack the virus with aggressive and targeted tactics.
The #COVID19 pandemic is accelerating. It took 67 days from the 1st reported case to reach the first 100K cases, 11 days for the second 100K cases & just 4 days for the third 100K cases.
These numbers matter, these are people, whose lives & families have been turned upside down. https://t.co/VydhLBNq36
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) March 23, 2020
China Reports 78 New Imported Cases as Fears Grow of Second Wave
China reported 78 new cases of the deadly coronavirus on Tuesday, with the vast majority brought in from overseas as fears rise of a second wave of infections.
The first new case in nearly a week was also reported in Wuhan – the epicentre where the virus emerged last year – along with three other local infections elsewhere in the country.
At 74, the imported cases confirmed Tuesday were the highest since officials started reporting the data at the beginning of March, and nearly double those reported Monday.
Man Dies After Ingesting Chloroquine in an Attempt to Prevent Coronavirus
An Arizona man has died after ingesting chloroquine phosphate — believing it would protect him from becoming infected with the coronavirus. The man’s wife also ingested the substance and is under critical care.
The toxic ingredient they consumed was not the medication form of chloroquine, used to treat malaria in humans. Instead, it was an ingredient listed on a parasite treatment for fish.
Special Flights to Bring Back Stranded Pakistanis
The govt. has granted special permission to Fly Dubai and Qatar Airways to bring back Pakistanis stranded at Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Doha airports.
Fly Dubai’s flight carrying about 150 passengers landed in Islamabad at 2.10am. These passengers were in transit at Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports.
Qatar Airways will operate a flight for Islamabad to bring back stranded passengers at Doha Airport.
It’s pertinent to note that all Pakistani airports are closed for international flights till April 4.
3 More Cases Emerge in Punjab
Punjab has reported three new COVID-19 cases with the province’s tally reaching 249.
SBP to Provide Disinfected Banknotes
Pakistan’s central bank has announced that it will provide ‘fit, authenticated, and disinfected cash’.
This will help resolve the public concerns surrounding currency notes being potent carriers of COVID-19.
Banks will provide fit, authenticated and disinfected cash. SBP will ensure to clean, disinfect, seal and quarantine all cash being collected from hospitals and clinics and to block circulation of such cash in the market.
— SBP (@StateBank_Pak) March 23, 2020
Govt. To Announce Economic Relief and Stimulus Package: Hammad Azhar
Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar has said that the govt. is working on an economic relief and stimulus package that is expected to be announced today.
The economic team is finalising an economic relief and stimulus package that shall be announced tomorrow InshAllah.
PM office, members of cabinet and government officers in multiple divisions have worked tirelessly over the past days to work out proposals and take decisions.
— Hammad Azhar (@Hammad_Azhar) March 23, 2020
Poor Will be Protected at All Costs: Imran Khan
PM Imran Khan has said that the government will leave no stone unturned to protect the poor from the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
While speaking at a high-level meeting, he said all necessary steps will be taken to ensure that nobody is able to take undue advantage of the situation.
1) وزیر اعظم عمران خان کی زیر صدارت کرونا وائرس کی وجہ سے ملکی معیشت پر ممکنہ اثرات اور عوام کو ریلیف فراہم کرنے کے اقدامات کے حوالے سے اعلی سطح اجلاس۔ pic.twitter.com/yjjjBCnHxu
— Prime Minister's Office, Pakistan (@PakPMO) March 23, 2020
Islamabad Administration Quarantines UC Kot Hathial
The capital administration has ordered Islamabad’s union council Kot Hathial to be placed under quarantine after 6 residents test positive for coronavirus.
All six people are members of the Tableeghi Jamaat. Two mosques in the area were also ordered shut on Sunday after a member of the Jamaat, a Kyrgyz, was detected with COVID-19.
For our coronavirus coverage from March 23, click here.